There is not a Borussia Dortmund player who polarizes opinion as much as Julian Brandt. An undoubtedly talented footballer, the midfielder frustrates many with his inconsistency, his erratic passing at times and the general feeling that he’s not reaching his full potential. He gets criticised because people know just what he is capable of.
There are others that are prepared to tolerate these shortcomings for the regular moments of pure genius and slide rule passes that slice open opposition defences with ease. When he is on, he is on and looks like he could open up any team.
Lately we have been treated to more of the good version of Julian Brandt on a more consistent basis. Is this version here to stay?
In Borussia Dortmund’s opening Champions League win at home to FC Copenhagen Brandt was named UEFA Man of the Match for his performance against the Danes. UEFA’s Technical Observer Panel said: “A strong, hard-working player who acts as playmaker from his position as a winger. A very good assist for the opener.”
The assist was indeed a real peach from the 26-year-old. Using the decoy run from Niklas Süle, he cut in from the right and threaded the ball through three Copenhagen defenders to pick out captain Marco Reus.
“It was a hard-fought game with a lot of hard challenges and an intensity that demanded a lot of us in terms of runs and sprints” Brandt said after the game. “But from my perspective I think we scored three really nice goals and produced an extremely good team performance. That was crucial today – three points in the first game. On the whole, I think we can be pleased with a solid performance over 90 minutes.
“I maybe should have scored one or two goals myself and I’m a little bit annoyed about that. At the end of the game, I didn’t quite have the energy or power needed in certain moments and sometimes the luck either. But I think it’s more important to have the chances in the first place, instead of having none so I’m pleased, ultimately.”
And pleased he, Edin Terzic and the Borussia Dortmund fans should be as this is becoming a habit this season. The Werder Bremen game on matchday 3 will be remembered for the collapse at the end, but Brandt’s great strike to make it 1-0 just before the interval should also be recalled. With nothing really on in front of him he cut inside and unleashed a low left-footed drive into the bottom corner.
The 1-0 win at Hertha on matchday saw another good performance where he led the team on a number of metrics. He had 7 shot creating actions, 4 key passes, 3 out 4 successful dribbles, 12 pressures and 10 progressive passes received. Then against Hoffenheim, stood out and turned provider for Marco Reus with a stunning cushioned lay-off to round off a great team build-up.
This season Edin Terzic started him on the bench for the first two Bundesliga fixtures, but has started him against Werder, Hertha Berlin and Hoffenheim as well as in the Champions League. He has performed well in all four and if this consistency continues, should keep his place. Injuries to Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Donyell Malen help his cause, but his cause is also now being helped by his performances.
If is a big word though and it will be interesting to see if Brandt continues to polarize opinion, or whether he can win over the doubters.